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The world’s best design schools, ranked

Reuters/Olivia Harris
School grades.
  • Anne Quito
By Anne Quito

Design and architecture reporter

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

This posted has been updated.

To study at the world’s top design schools, you’d better speak English. London’s Royal College of Art (RCA) has been named the best art and design school in the world, for the second year in a row. In the survey of over 1,300 universities published by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) on March 22, the UK’s 120-year old public research institution placed first ahead of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Rhode Island School of Design, which came in third.

QS, a London-based higher education and career consultant, scored universities based on four indicators: the school’s academic reputation, number of research citations, the quality of the school’s research output and impact (or H-index), and the employability of its graduates. This year’s survey results were drawn from the opinion of 76,798 academics and scanned 28.5 million research papers, as explained in the company’s blog.

Ranking criteria seriously considered life beyond graduation: A school’s  reputation among employers was determined by asking 44,426 companies to name the top 10 domestic and 30 international institutions they would consider recruiting from.

With US universities Yale and Stanford tied for eighth place, here are the schools with the strongest art and design programs in the world:

2016 QS World University Ranking: Art & Design

Royal College of Art
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)
Parsons School of Design at The New School
University of the Arts London
Pratt Institute
School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC)
Stanford University
Yale University
Politecnico di Milano

Only Italy’s largest engineering and architecture school Politecnico di Milano broke the UK-US total dominance of the top rankings.

MIT garnered the top spot in architecture and engineering categories and was awarded overall best university, beating Harvard. On a separate evaluation metric from the university rankings, QS, which convenes education fairs, also has a “star rating system” in which MIT, along with other schools, received the highest ratings and RCA curiously received none.

But art ≠ design

It’s worth noting that grouping of “art and design” can be misleading, as fine arts (for example sculpture or painting) is often a totally different endeavor than the more commercially oriented design specialization like industrial design or graphic design. Jack Moran of QS explains to Quartz that two subjects were grouped to generate statistically significant results. “To produce robust rankings with statistical meaningfulness, we decided to aggregate subjects with close affinities. Such is the rationale behind ranking Modern Languages, as opposed to each individual language,” he says. Moran added that as their data set set grows, better and more relevant distinctions can be made between these two subject areas, which could help allay the common and persistent misunderstanding about the difference between design and art.

A statement from QS explaining the rationale behind grouping of ”art” and ”design” was added to this post.

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